As one of the major constituent associations of RMI, NADA and its members are strong supporters of the RMI's Code of Conduct. Customers are encouraged to patronise only the RMI/NADA member establishments and members undertake, in turn, to provide quality products and services at reasonable prices. If customers do have complaints which cannot be rectified by the management of the company with whom they have been dealing, they are encouraged to take the matter up with the RMI Complaints Committee which will then independently investigate the situation and resolves the dispute to the satisfaction of all parties.
At regular meetings, the NADA executive reviews topical trends and developments which have impact on retail motor vehicle traders, establishes its position on them and decides what needs to be done to achieve the best outcome for NADA members and their customers. Some of the current issues and NADA's position on them include:
From a customer's point of view, dealer viability has become more and more important in recent years, If a dealer does not achieve sensible margins between his costs and the selling price of vehicles, he is unable to make the necessary investment in his service facilities to ensure good after sales backup to his customers. With the reduction of protective tariffs and other pressures, NADA has a focused endeavour to keep dealer margins practical and encourages members to reinvest in areas which provide after sales service and support to the owners of the products they sell.
NADA regularly examines the structure of the dealer agreements between motor manufacturers and their franchisees to ensure the even handling of the relation- ship between the two.
NADA recognises the need to protect motorists' interests wherever possible, especially in resisting increases to costs of vehicle acquisition and overall vehicle owner- ship. NADA has frequently and successfully achieved modifications to Perks Tax legislation, for instance, to prevent further erosions to motorists' spending power. NADA has also played an active role in stamping out malpractice such as the turning back of odometers on used vehicles. NADA initiatives here have led to the introduction of new recording mechanisms in documentation and other measures making the turning back of speedometers more difficult and severe penalties have been introduced to discourage the practice.
NADA has given dynamic input to the processes surrounding the development of NATIS - a centralised information database system which will nationally record all vehicles. Specifically NADA was able to introduce the recording details of vehicles which are financially encumbered into the system so this information will be available to dealers in the future. Another element of NATIS recording piloted by NADA relates to the identification of rebuilt vehicles.
NADA has maintained a persistent and effective lobby with government to monitor and influence activities which impact on its members in the retail motor sector. This relationship has been carefully nurtured and even enhanced in the transition to the New South Africa. At all levels of government and in the many different relevant departments, NADA access reaches upwards to Cabinet Ministers themselves, as well as into Parliament, special governmental committees and task groups.
NADA has long recognised the key role played by banking institutions in financing vehicle acquisition and operating costs. It has developed strong relationships with the major banks providing vehicle funding in order to ensure good terms for members and customers alike and to monitor new trends and developments as they occur. Special emphasis in this endeavour is placed on assisting first-time buyers in entering the market.
Recognition of NADA's role in the industry was demonstrated in the events leading up to the finalisation of the Motor Industry Development Programme (MIDP) announced by Government late in 1995. From 1993 the RMI was invited to take a seat in the Motor Industry Task Group, and Errol Richardson, former NADA National Chairman and then President of the RMI, was elected by NADA to take this important role. NADA input from a dealer viewpoint and the wider aftermarket in this vital forum was ongoing through to the tabling of the first recommendations on the future shape of the industry for cars and light commercials late in 1994, the subsequent recommendations for commercial vehicles early in 1995, and in the discussions which followed until the introduction of the MIDP in July and September of 1995.
NADA launched in 1996 an initiative focused on improving standards of service in the used car sector. Good progress has been made in this respect through the dealer councils and directly with member establishments trading in this sector. A recent research project commissioned by NADA and conducted by the Witwatersrand University has established that there are negative customer perceptions about the non-franchised used-car only operations which are not NADA members, and the executive is now addressing this new challenge.
Changes in labour legislation and the new emphasis on labour relations under the New Government have led to much greater activity by NADA in this field. The latest Main Agreement between employers and the trade unions governing all aspects of the labour interface, was successfully negotiated by the RMI on which prominent NADA members serve. NADA in conjunction with the RMI continues to offer members ongoing advice from its regional offices on the handling of human resources and labour relations problems which take place in their businesses.